Singapore's shooters get their Covid-19 shots
Vaccination drive for selected Singaporean athletes begins
The Covid-19 vaccination drive for Singapore's athletes who have to travel abroad to train, prepare or qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics has begun with shooters Adele Tan, Tessa Neo and Ho Xiu Yi receiving their shots on Wednesday.
The trio and their coach Song Haiping received their jabs ahead of a planned trip to South Korea for the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup.
Scheduled for April, the event has been postponed until the "14 days mandatory quarantine for all inbound travellers is lifted in Korea", said the ISSF website yesterday.
The Singapore Shooting Association said seven of its athletes, three coaches and one trainer are in line to be vaccinated. Two shooters and two officials have completed their inoculation process.
In November 2019, Neo earned Singapore an Olympic berth after finishing second in the 10m air rifle at the Asian Shooting Championships.
The Republic's representative for the July 23 to Aug 8 Games will be selected from a group of the nation's top rifle shooters - including Neo, Tan, Ho, Jasmine Ser and Martina Veloso - based on scores from qualifiers.
Ho, 21, who got the first of her two jabs on Wednesday, told The New Paper: "Getting vaccinated makes us feel like there's a progression...
"Taking the vaccine just allows us to plan for travels in the future to compete.
"Because before that, there was a lot of worry that if you travel, we still have to get quarantined for 14 days when we go there and come back, so will that be a viable option...
"Now that this is happening... it kind of feels like maybe Tokyo is going to happen because as more and more athletes get vaccinated, it's safer to host the Games.
"Before the vaccination, it worried us (whether) the Olympics would even happen."
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Edwin Tong revealed late last month that relevant athletes "will be accorded some degree of prioritisation" for vaccination, adding that details were being worked out.
The MCCY Minister noted that inoculation would not be a prerequisite for local athletes heading to the Olympics or Paralympics.
International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates yesterday encouraged Tokyo-bound athletes to get vaccinated but added it was "not compulsory".
Mr Tong on Wednesday posted photos on his Facebook page of himself with Tan, Neo and Ho at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
He wrote: "This morning I joined three of our Team Singapore shooters and their coach to get our first dose of the Covid vaccine...
"We must support our athletes as they travel, train and compete for Singapore on a global stage.
"We will therefore progressively arrange for our athletes and coaches to get their vaccinations ahead of their overseas travel so that they remain safe, and can focus on their competitions."
Singapore will have Olympic representatives in swimming, diving, sailing, gymnastics, shooting and table tennis.
Fencer Amita Berthier and badminton players Yeo Jia Min and Loh Kean Yew are in the running to seal their tickets to Tokyo.
Athletes TNP spoke to last month were largely open to getting vaccinated but some had questions.
49erFX skiff class sailor Cecilia Low, who is training and competing in Europe, said one of the considerations would be "finding time in our busy schedule to actually take the vaccine".
Another athlete, who declined to be named, would be opting out of the vaccination drive, noting: "I'm not yet certain of possible side effects."